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When I called Thom Gimbel of Foreigner to discuss the band’s upcoming show at Agua Caliente Casino, he was upfront about his drinking problem. In fact, he confessed that he had already started that morning.

“For a while, I was up to about two or three smoothies a day,” Gimbel said. “I was going to a bar every night … the salad bar. I was a mess. But now I’ve switched to Martinelli’s sparkling cider, so I’m doing OK.”

Kidding aside, Foreigner is one of the greatest rock bands of all time. The group has sold 80 million records, and although only one original member remains with the band—guitarist Mick Jones—Foreigner remains in high demand.

The show at Agua Caliente on Saturday, Nov. 10, will be special for several reasons. First, the current lineup will be joined by some of the surviving original members. Second, the Rancho Mirage High School choir will join Foreigner for the classic hit “I Want to Know What Love Is,” and the band will donate $500 to the choir for their appearance. The choir will also help sell CDs to raise money for The Grammy Foundation, which advocates for keeping music education in public schools.

During our recent phone interview, Gimbel, who officially joined the band in 1995, discussed playing with the 21st Century Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, a performance Foreigner recorded and released as a live album.

“It was magnificent and nothing short of spectacular because of the size of the choir and the orchestra,” Gimbel said. “The choir alone was 60 to 80 people, and we had this massive orchestra, and we got to work with a conductor. It was a new thing for us. Plus the conductor is a rocker at heart; if you see the DVD, you can tell. He looks like a leftover of the Beatles and was trapped in a conductor’s body. We had such a good time with that. It’s not really a classical rendition; it’s still rock, but we have this icing on the top with strings and horns and vocals.”

Gimbel—who plays the guitar, saxophone and flute with Foreigner—showed an interest in music growing up.

“My parents loved music, and my brothers and sisters did, too,” he said. “My mom is very musical. … As soon as I could get my hands on drums, I was playing a drum set. When I was in fifth-grade, my dad was trying to get me work. He would say, ‘Hey, there’s a band at this bar. Why don’t you come and sit in?’ By the time I got to music college, I had already been in my high school band.”

He went on to study music at the Berklee College of Music.

“Intellectually, it was a dream come true,” Gimbel said. “I was so thirsty for knowledge and wanted to understand how all the chords and scales worked together. They answered all my questions. Then they said, ‘Now go back to being a thinking and feeling musician, and forget all that technical stuff. Play from the heart, and make melody the supreme goal.’ Melody is the absolute in music. You listen to any hit song, and it’s about the words and the melody. I learned that and even more.

“I got to work with some of the most brilliant minds there, and I had a roommate who was a world-class jazz guitarist. It was a great place for the mind to thrive. Professionally, I owe everything I have to Berklee.”

Gimbel bemoaned the weakening state of music education.

“The only thing that seems to remain strong as far as school bands is I always see the colleges having a strong marching or concert band,” he said. “It might be taken away at the elementary or high school level, but for some reason, college bands are really strong. … That’s what gives me hope for the future.”

Gimbel joined Foreigner in 1995—coming directly from being a touring musician with Aerosmith during that band’s wildly successful comeback, from 1989 to 1995.

“I saw a lot of similarities. Here was Steven Tyler and Joe Perry on one side, and then you had Lou Gramm and Mick Jones on the other side,” he said. “There was always this dynamic duo at the helm during those days. It was great, and it’s like having a couple of parents—like a mom and dad figure. I thought the Aerosmith guys would have been a bit more standoffish when it came to saxophone solos, but it was the opposite. They’d be like, ‘Why don’t you do a big giant saxophone solo with the drums?’ When I came to Foreigner, instead of them telling me to keep it down, they were like, ‘No! That’s first gear; then you need to go into second gear and then third gear. Tear the roof off the house with that saxophone.’ They both encouraged their players to take it to the next level, and that’s the sign of great bandleaders.”

Gimbel said the members of Foreigner are happy to still be in high demand.

“It’s kind of humbling to see that people still enjoy this, and we feel honored to be rocking out in this great situation where people want to see Foreigner,” he said. “That’s the ultimate reward for whatever we put into it. It feels like a wonderful treat to hear people tell us, ‘Thanks for keeping this going, and we hope you keep rocking.’ We’ll keep going for as long as people want us to.”

Foreigner will perform at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 10, at The Show at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, in Rancho Mirage. Tickets are $75 to $150, with VIP packages available. For tickets or more information, call 888-999-1995, or visit www.hotwatercasino.com.

Published in Previews

The holiday season is approaching, as are cooler temperatures—and hotter events, now that season is back in swing.

The McCallum Theatre has a busy schedule in November, with a number of great events to consider. At 8 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 2, you’ll be singing “Urgent,” because Foreigner will be performing. Foreigner is one of the world’s best well-known rock bands, with 16 Top 30 hits, 75 million records sold and great songs such as “Dirty White Boy,” “Feels Like the First Time” and many others to its credit. Tickets, if there are any left by the time you read this, are $47 to $97. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 5, bossa nova and jazz great Herb Alpert will take the stage alongside his wife, Lani Hall. Herb Alpert has made some great records in his long career, and many of them are now Latin and American music staples; Alpert is credited with bringing the Latin side to American jazz in a truly innovative way. Tickets are $37 to $77. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 19, be ready to say, “Oh myyyyy,” because George Takei will be appearing. Of course, Takei is known for his iconic role as Sulu on Star Trek, but he’s also a hilarious Internet celebrity, and on a serious note, he’s known for speaking emotionally about his family’s imprisonment in a Japanese internment camp during World War II. Tickets are $37 to $97. But wait, there’s more: At 3 and 7 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 20, The Beach Boys will be performing. I admit that I’m not a fan of the current inception, which does not include creative genius Brian Wilson and Al Jardine. The current lineup is fronted by the Wilson brothers’ cousin, Mike Love, who has been scorned by many original Beach Boys fans. But if you’re feeling nostalgic, go ahead and check it out. Tickets are $67 to $97. Be sure to check out the McCallum’s online schedule for more events. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino is rocking into November. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 5, white-boy soul-singer Robin Thicke will be stopping by. Remember him? He had that song called “Blurred Lines” that was all over the place a few years ago that so resembled Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” that Thicke wound up in court. Thicke bottomed out pretty hard in 2014 when his follow-up to the Blurred Lines album, Paula, only sold about 30,000 copies. Watch as Thicke tries to get a comeback going. Tickets are $59 to $99. At 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 11, Culture Club (upper right) will finally be coming to the desert. The band announced a tour in 2014 that was slated to kick off at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa—but it was canceled before it began, because Boy George required surgery. You won’t want to miss this one. Tickets are $59 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 800-827-2946; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

The Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa will host an evening with Sheena Easton at 8 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 10. Did you know the Scotland native has sold more than 20 million records during her career? Tickets are $75 to $85. At 7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 11, former Three Dog Night member Chuck Negron will take the stage. The former college basketball player has been performing for more than five decades now! Tickets are $40 to $75. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa is offering some laughs in November. At 9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 4, the star of BuzzFeed’s web series Whine About It, Matt Bellassai, will be stopping by. Bellassai had been getting 3.5 million weekly views, but in early 2016, he put his show on hiatus. If you’re looking for a funny Pride related-event, this is the one to pick. Bellassai is infamous for his comedic dialogue about being a single gay man living in the Big Apple. Tickets are $25 to $35. At 9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 18, Mr. Fluffy himself, Gabriel Iglesias, will return to the Coachella Valley with his new show, #FluffyBreaksEven. After several appearances in movies, he’s still a stand-up comedy genius and continues to amuse sold-out audiences. Tickets are $65 to $85. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace will most likely see a boost in attention from locals and tourists alike thanks to Paul McCartney’s performance there in between Desert Trip weekends. At 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 11, there will be a great lineup of desert rockers: Fatso Jetson, Mondo Generator, The Freeks and Glitter Wizard. Fatso Jetson performed at a show at Pappy’s back in April, and I can tell you that the band kicked ass. Tickets are $10. At 7 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 26, it’ll get weird when the Meat Puppets and Mike Watt and the Secondmen perform. The Meat Puppets are coming back to Pappy’s after a performance there in 2013; it’s a great band from punk-label SST’s glory days. Mike Watt performed in the Minutemen, who were also on SST in the early ’80s; he’s a phenomenal bass player. I’ve seen Watt play with the Secondmen, and they’re mind blowing. Tickets are $20. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has a show in November you won’t want to miss. At 9 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 23, there will be a special Thanksgiving Eve bash with Mighty Jack, The Sweat Act and 5th Town. This should be a fantastic show. I’ve become a big fan of 5th Town, which includes Long Duk Dong vocalist Chelsea Sugarbritches, and Blasting Echo keyboardist Linda Lemke Heinz. One of my favorites is 5th Town’s song, “Pretty.” Admission is free. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

The Date Shed has some nice events taking place this month. At 9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 4, Metalachi will be coming back. Metalachi is on to something … performing metal songs in mariachi form? Brilliant! Opening the show will be Gutter Candy and Wyte Gye. Tickets are $10 to $15. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe Street, Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

The Purple Room is ramping up its schedule for the season. At 6:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 11, there will be a performance by Kal David and Lori Bono and the Real Deal. Kal David is a legend we’re lucky to have in our local scene. His blues credentials run deep: He’s performed with B.B. King and opened for Stevie Wonder. Tickets are $25. At 6:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 19, Branden and James (below) will be performing. Consisting of a cello (James) and a tenor voice (Branden), the duo will be perform everything from Bach to Justin Bieber. Tickets are $25 to $35. The Purple Room Supper Club, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

Published in Previews

Now that the holidays are over, it’s time for a breather.

During the month of January, the Coachella Valley is experiencing a slowdown in the number of music events—so it’s all about quality over quantity. Thankfully, there’s plenty of quality.

The McCallum Theatre will host Shirley MacLaine at 7 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 19. MacLaine will be speaking about her experiences in Hollywood, her private life and her spiritual journey. Tickets are $35 to $75. Jazz vocal artist Patti Austin will be performing at 8 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 28. Austin, best known for her 1981 duet “Baby, Come to Me” with James Ingram, is a live delight. Tickets are $35 to $75. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 31, and Saturday, Feb. 1, Pink Martini will take the stage. The modern-day alternative lounge-music act has always had a feel good vibe and will definitely put on a fun show. Tickets are $35 to $95. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a solid schedule throughout the month. The Golden Boys will be performing at 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 3. The supergroup includes three heartthrobs from the early days of pop: Frankie Avalon, Bobby Rydell and Fabian. They’ll be onstage together crooning each of their hits. For those who remember the heyday of these singers back in the ’50s, it will be a special night. Tickets are $29 to $59. And now for something completely different: At 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11, Snoop Lion, aka Snoop Dogg, aka Snoop Doggy Dogg, will be performing in the Coachella Valley for the first time since his headlining slot with Dr. Dre at Coachella in 2012. It’s hard to predict what to expect from Snoop, since his recent conversion to Snoop Lion has also included a shift in sound. His most recent release, Reincarnated, is a reggae album; Snoop’s conversion to the Rastafarian religion was shown in the documentary with the same name. He was a no-show at a scheduled performance in Portland, Ore., a few months back, and he seems to be more open to being called Snoop Dogg again, so who knows what to expect? (He turned down an interview request from the Independent, for what it’s worth.) Tickets are $39 to $89. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 31, country-music star Martina McBride will close out the month in style. Her career goes all the way back to 1988, and she’s had quite a run ever since; she also has a new album slated for release in 2014. This should definitely be a treat for country-music fans. Tickets are $39 to $99. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa has a slower January compared to other recent months—but the resort’s schedule does feature an undeniable legend. At 9 p.m., Friday, Jan. 24, country legend Dolly Parton will bring her classics to the Agua Caliente. The “9-to-5” singer is still going strong and is inspiring younger generations after being covered by artists like the White Stripes. Tickets were $90 to $160, but the show is sold out. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 Casino has a couple of great events worth mentioning. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 11, comedienne Kathleen Madigan will be performing. Thanks in part to her high-profile comedy specials, including Gone Madigan on Showtime, she’s become a huge success. Tickets are $20 to $40. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 25, Morris Day and the Time will be performing with Sheila E. Morris Day is a well-known cult hero thanks to his song “Jungle Love.” Day was also in Prince’s Purple Rain as Prince’s nemesis. Speaking of Prince: His former drummer, Sheila E, will also be performing. Tickets are $25 to $45. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com

Morongo Casino Resort Spa doesn’t have much going on in January, but the Cabazon resort will kick off the next month with Foreigner, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 1. While Mick Jones is the only remaining member, the band’s hits make them worth experiencing live. Also, for those of us who watch Aqua Teen Hunger Force, we know the powers of the “Foreigner Belt.” Tickets are $59 to $69. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s, meanwhile, has another great month of shows booked. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 9, Pappy’s will host the Bobby Nichols Band. The high-desert band is a hit with the local crowd, thanks to their smooth electronic instrumental grooves; it will be a perfect night to be in Pioneertown for dinner and a show. Admission is free. At 7:30 p.m., Friday, Jan. 10, The Palominos (right) will be performing. The San Diego based honky-tonk band is helping keep the California country music sound alive. This show is free, too. After hosting the Weirdos in December, Pappy’s will be hosting another punk band at 9 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 19: Parquet Courts. Since forming in 2010 in Brooklyn, N.Y., the band has been a hit in the underground—and has even gained some attention from the mainstream music press. Tickets are $12. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza is unfortunately losing booking mastermind Brandon Henderson. The good news is he will be replaced by War Drum frontman Jack Kohler. At 9 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 9, The Hood will host its new Industry Night. DJ Bent will be spinning during the all-vinyl night. Attendance is free (21 and older). At 10 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 18, Flower Boy and Giselle Woo and the Night Owls will be playing. Attendance is again free (21 and older) The Independent wishes Brandon Henderson well in his new journey. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.thehoodbar.com.

We’re finally getting a better look at the Hard Rock Hotel’s entertainment plans. The hotel will now feature DJs every Friday and Saturday in the lobby from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., and poolside from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Hard Rock Palm Springs, 150 S. Palm Canyon Drive; 760-325-9676; www.hrhpalmsprings.com.

Vicky’s of Santa Fe has some great music events to go hand in hand with the restaurant’s fine dining. Every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 6:30 to 10 p.m., jazz musician Pat Rizzo performs with the All That Jazz Band. Every Tuesday, from 7 to 10 p.m., the restaurant features Michael Dees and Trio. Fans of swing music can enjoy Carolyn Martinez and Trio every Thursday from 6:30 to 10 p.m. John Stanley King performs every Sunday from 6 to 9 p.m. Vicky’s of Santa Fe, 45100 Club Drive, Indian Wells; 760-345-9770; www.vickysofsantafe.com.

The Ace Hotel has added a monthly event to its lineup in the Amigo Room. At 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 10, The Full House Band featuring Nena Anderson will perform “gypsy jazz,” Americana and Western swing. The event will be every second Friday of the month going forward. Attendance is free to those 21 and older.The Ace Hotel, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

The newly opened Copa Room is hopping; the new spot has a lot to offer thanks to its old-school lounge appeal. At 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Jan. 3 and 4, the Copa will host Well-Strung (below), an all-male string quartet playing the works of artists from to Mozart to Vivaldi to … Lady Gaga? Yes, that’s right. Tickets are $25 to $35. Check the Copa’s website, as the folks there were adding a variety of shows to the lineup as we went to press.The Copa Room, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021; www.coparoomtickets.com.

Zena Bender, in collaboration with the folks at Radio Free Joshua Tree, will be holding a second fundraiser at the Sky Village Swap Meet in Yucca Valley, at 4 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 8. The nonprofit radio station was founded by Teddy Quinn to serve as an outlet for Coachella Valley and high-desert musicians, poets and artists. The effort is worth your support. A suggested donation is $10. Sky Village Swap Meet, 7028 Theatre Road, Yucca Valley; www.radiofreejoshuatree.com.

Published in Previews